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Posts Tagged ‘editors’

April 13, 2015

Working with an Editor

 

When it finally happens, you know, the phone call or e-mail that says, “Congratulations! You’ve got a contract with our company,” prepare yourself for the exciting adventure of seeing your name in print. There’s nothing quite like it after you’ve been trying for years to do so. Have a party or go to McDonald’s for a latte or buy your dog a big box of treats. Celebrate somehow. Then prepare yourself for the next step in your writing life.

As you enter this new phase of writing/publishing, determine in your heart to do the best job you can with the editor to whom you are assigned. The editor is your friend, not your arch enemy who is set on destroying every clever phrase you’ve ever penned.

Here are a few tips that I learned along the way that might help you in your “strange encounter of the first kind” with the person who has been hired to make you look real good:

  1. Before you ever submit your first draft to your editor, revise, revise, revise your manuscript. Have a critique group edit it; have another writer friend or two critique it, and send the best possible manuscript to the editor after you’ve rewritten it at least seven or eight times. Your editor is NOT your high school English teacher. He/she expects you to know how to use commas, quotation marks, and colons.
  2. Be on time with assignments; editors are on a very tight schedule. Don’t give them deadline headaches. If you have excuses for not meeting those deadlines, you won’t be invited back for another contract.
  3. Divorce yourself from your manuscript and analyze it objectively. Your editor is going to suggest changes you won’t like. The words you wrote are not written in stone, and, as much as you think your manuscript is your newborn baby, it is not. Accept with a learning spirit the changes the editor wants.
  4. If you are set on keeping your words, discuss the matter with your editor. Explain your reasoning but be willing to listen to his/her explanation. Your editor is a hired professional who knows the ins and outs of publishing. He/she KNOWS what will work 99% of the time.
  5. Thank your editor often. When the project is done, send him/her a card of gratitude, at least. (A small gift as a token of your appreciation would be well received.) When my Keystone Stables Series had been finished, I sent my editor a Breyers horse model with a heartfelt thank you. If you follow through with a note of appreciation, your editor just might remember you the next time the publishing company is looking for an author in your genre specialty.

So, there you have the basics of working with that editor, who wants you to succeed as much as you do. Remember, you’re on the same team. Just let the editor be the quarterback.

Speaking of editors, make plans to come to the Montrose Christian Writers Conference this July 19th -24th. We have editors and an agent on faculty, all who are eager to sit down with you and discuss your projects.

http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

Conferees.on.Porch

 

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June 9, 2014

From an Editor’s Viewpoint

(Working with an Editor)

For about the last year, I’ve been working as an acquisitions editor for Helping Hands Press, Levittown, PA. We’ve done a nice series of holiday stories entitled MARSHA HUBLER’S HEART-WARMING CHRISTMAS STORIES and a compilation for equine lovers, MARSHA HUBLER’S HEART-WARMING HORSE STORIES. We’ve also published a few excellent tween/YA/adult novels and a few supplementary educational materials for kids on the elementary level. Right now I’m on the lookout for Easter stories, novels, and more excellent educational stuff. But that’s not the reason I wrote this blog post.

For awhile we’re going to discuss the basics of working with an editor. For almost twenty years, I’ve been on the other side of the editor’s desk as an author working with editors. Although I’m still published regularly, the editor’s table is turned, and I’m also on the receiving end of the editor/author relationship. I now see how important it is for an author to be diligent in their efforts to work with an editor on a professional level. After all, that editor is an author’s lifeline to the published market. So, let’s look at some important points for authors to embrace as they seek publication at a royalty publishing company.

Contacting an Editor:

I’m amazed at some of the emails I’ve received from writers who want me to look at their work. (That’s called a “query letter.”) Either the folks are so green, they have no clue how to approach an editor, or they are not determined in their hearts to make a good first impression on that editor, who could possibly give them one or more contracts or delete the email without a second thought. By the way, hardly any submissions are done via hard copy anymore. Everything is done electronically, and I mean everything.

Let’s examine an example of a “query letter,” (content and name modified to protect the guilty) I received about six months ago:

Cutiepieauthor@downer.com

Hi,

Thanks for taking a look at the pages of my novel. They are attached. It was nice meeting you at the conference.    Sarah

_____________________________________________________________________________

Okay, so I had to take a deep breath and decide if I wanted to even look at this writer’s sample pages. So what’s wrong with this submission?

  1. How about a nice greeting like “Dear Mrs. Hubler:” The writer was “applying” for a job, not writing to her best friend.
  2. What novel? What’s its title? What genre is it? Where’s the synopsis?
  3. What’s attached? The entire novel? Three chapters?
  4. What conference? When? Many editors are on faculty at least two or three times a year at different writers’ conferences.
  5. Did I meet one-on-one with this writer in a private conference? Or did we discuss her project at lunch? How about a few more details to refresh my memory.
  6. Sarah? Sarah who? I know about six Sarahs, and I usually meet another one at any writers’ conference I attend. Full name missing? How about a phone number? Email address? Home address? Website? If I delete this email by mistake, I have no idea how to get in touch with “Sarah.” The contact is lost and, possibly, a book contract.
  7. And last but not least, did you notice the email address? It tells me nothing concerning who this Sarah is. So how important is it to include all contact information with that first very, very important letter to the editor?

Next time, we’ll review the basics of writing an excellent query letter.

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On Writing

The Montrose Christian Writers Conference

 

Torrey Lodge
Home of the Montrose Christian Writers Conf.

Every year the last full week of July I attend what I think is one of the most beneficial writers’ conferences in our great land. For the last fourteen years, I’ve not missed the Montrose Christian Writers Conference in Montrose, PA, held at the restored home and conference grounds started by the world-renowned evangelist and missionary R.A.Torrey back in the early 20th Century. Nestled in among towering maple trees, the conference grounds invite all attendees to come apart from the busy world and bathe the soul in Christian fellowship.

Over the years, I’ve been on faculty about five times, presenting workshops about juvenile fiction, promotion, writing techniques, and so on. But this year, I went just as a conferee and enjoyed sitting, listening, and fellowshipping with fellow writers and friends I’ve made there over the last fourteen years.

The writers’ conference is directed by Patti Souder, a writer and the wife of Larry Souder, who is the manager of the Christian radio station WPEL, housed just a block away from the conference grounds. Every year, Patti organizes a faculty of an average of fifteen that is diverse and offers help in almost every area of writing. With about 110-130 conferees in attendance, the conference center comes alive with morning praise and worship, workshops from morning until late afternoon, critique groups and private critique sessions with faculty, and evening activities, including Readers’ Theater on Thursday evening, when any conferee may have three minutes to read a piece or a sample of a work he/she has written. This event is the highlight of the week for many conferees, especially unpublished ones, who look forward to sharing some of their creativity with “the world.”

This past year, an event separate from anything that has to do with writing occurred that none of us will forget. On Thursday, a bad storm blew through northeastern Pennsylvania, causing a tornado watch for the entire area. For about an hour in the late afternoon, about thirty of us huddled in the

Nothing stops us writers!

basement of the main conference building, Torrey Lodge, where we waited in a hallway until the storm passed by. We sang hymns and chatted, and, some faculty members even engaged in critiquing some conferees’ work. Thankfully, other than some branches blown down, there was no damage to the conference grounds, and we were able to continue with the normal schedule, which included a delicious supper in the dining room and then the Readers’ Theater at seven o’clock. The conference ended at 11 a.m. Friday morning, and we writers all left with sad goodbyes and a promise to stay connected on Facebook at the Writers of Any Genre Group and reunite next year “at the same time/same station,” the 2013 MCWC.

I said all that to say this. If you are serious about writing, please consider attending writers’ conferences. There’s no better way to learn the craft, to meet other Odd Ducks just like you who will understand you, and to make connections with editors and agents, who just might like your work and give you a contract. Of the five contracts I’ve signed, four of them were initiated at writers’ conferences when I met an editor or agent who liked my work.

So check Angie’s list or some conference websites and make a point to attend some writers’ conferences over the next year. And if you’re within a few hundred miles of Montrose, put that conference on your itinerary list. Writers come from as far as the New England states, Virginia, Michigan, Florida, and Tennessee. I’d love to meet you, and I guarantee that you’ll say it was well worth the time and expense to attend one of the best writers’ conferences that ever was.

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